Intended Audience

The content of this course is tailored to the needs of farmers, NRCS, SWCD, Cooperative Extension, and state department of agriculture employees, as well as crop consultants, natural resource specialists,  and non-governmental conservation organization staff.


Registration is $45 per person. Course registration includes the Xerces Society's Beneficial Insects Toolkit and a copy of Farming With Native Beneficial Insects.

Registration closes on March 16th - register soon!

Please plan to bring a sack lunch and a refillable water bottle!

Canceled registrations can be refunded until March 10th, 2017.


Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
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Agricultural Research and Development Center 
University of Nebraska-Lincoln 
1071 County Road G
Ithaca, NE 68033

Driving Directions 


Jillian Vento
The Xerces Society 

Reasonable Accomodations

The Xerces Society provides reasonable accommodations for special events with adequate notice.  To request accommodation for events, please contact by Friday, March 10th.

The USDA and the Xerces Society are equal-opportunity providers and employers.


This Short Course is made possible with the support of the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Additional support for this training is provided by the Audrey and J.J. Martindale Foundation, Cascadian Farm, Ceres Trust, CS Fund, Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, General Mills, the Irwin Andrew Porter Foundation, Turner Foundation, Inc., Whole Foods Market and its vendors, Whole Systems Foundation, and Xerces Society members. 

Special thanks to Justin McMechan, Jody Green, Natalia Bjorklund, and UNL Extension for providing the venue and for help in coordinating this event.

About The Xerces Society

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation is an international nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat. The Society's Pollinator Conservation Program was launched in 1996, and works with leading native pollinator ecologists to translate the latest research findings into on-the-ground conservation. More information about the Xerces Society is available at

Photo Credits

Header: Syrphid fly, by Adam Varenhorst. Sidebar: field observation of pollinators and plants, Anne Averille, University of Massachusetts.

 Farming With Beneficial Insects
for Pest Control:
Conservation Biological Control Short Course

Agricultural Research and Development Center 
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Ithaca, NE
Thursday, March 23rd, 2017
9:00 am - 4:00 pm

Learn a science-based strategy that seeks to integrate beneficial insects for natural pest control!

Learn about supporting beneficial insects that provide pest control in this full-day short course. Conservation biological control is a science-based pest management strategy that seeks to integrate beneficial insects back into cropping systems for natural pest control, ultimately reducing and in some cases eliminating the need for pesticides. Join Thelma Heidel-Baker, Conservation Biocontrol Specialist, and Jennifer Hopwood, Senior Pollinator Conservation Specialist at the Xerces Society, as they overview conservation biological control and beneficial predators and parasitoids that attack insect pests. Participants will learn how common farm practices can impact beneficial insects and how to assess and create farm habitat for beneficial insects.

In response to growing interest in promoting beneficial insects for their pest control services on farms, the Xerces Society has authored the book Farming With Native Beneficial Insects and developed the Conservation Biological Control Short Course to educate farmers, agriculture employees, natural resource specialists, land managers, and conservation organization staff.


This workshop will cover: 

  • The importance of beneficial insects - predators and parasitoids that attack insect pests.
  • Overview of conservation biological control and integrated pest management (IPM).
  • Become familiar with the most common beneficial insect groups.
  • How to recognize the habitat needs of beneficial insects and identify habitat deficiencies.
  • The design and implementation of habitat improvements, including site preparation, insectary strip plantings, hedgerows, beetle banks, and more.
  • The current best management practices that minimize land-use impacts on beneficial insects and mitigate exposure to insecticides.
  • How to access USDA conservation programs for financial and technical support.

Participants will receive the Xerces Society's Conservation Biological Control Toolkit which includes habitat installation guidelines and other relevant publications, and the Xerces' book, Farming with Native Beneficial Insects.

 *Continuing Education Credits Available*

  • Certified Crop Advisor (6 CEUs) 
  • Society of American Foresters (5 CFE credits)
  • The Wildlife Society (5.5 contact hours)   


Welcome and Announcements 

Module 1 - Farming with Beneficial Insects: Conservation Biological Control (CBC)

  • Overview of conservation biological control and integrated pest management
  • Status of beneficial insect conservation

 Module 2 -  Farm Practices for Beneficial Insects

  • Supporting beneficial insects with farm practices
  • Preventing potential negative impacts of conventional and organic-approved pesticides on beneficial 
    insects (e.g. exposure pathways, toxicity, residual activity)
  • Mitigating pesticide risks to beneficial insects and other natural resources using IPM, PAMS, and 
    conservation practices (e.g. alternatives to pesticides, pesticide drift reduction, buffer practices)
  • Protecting overwintering and nesting sites


Module 3 - Common Beneficial Insect Groups

  • Introduction to beneficial insects and the ecological services they provide
  • Overview of beneficial insect groups (predators and parasitoids)
  • Summary of beneficial insect biology and habitat needs

Guest Speaker - Julie Peterson, UNL Extension 

  • Conservation BioControl research in Nebraska

Guest Speaker - Nebraska NRCS, Speaker TBD

  • USDA Practices and Programs for Beneficial Insect Conservation

Lunch - Please bring a sack lunch! 

Module 4 - Assessing Baseline Farm Conditions for Beneficial Insects

  • Overview of habitat diversity values
  • Introduction to the Beneficial Insect Habitat Assessment Guide to Inform CBC Planning

Module 5 - Designing and Restoring Habitat for Beneficial Insects

  • Conservation practices that support beneficial insects (e.g. beetle banks, buffers and windbreaks, cover crops, field borders, hedgerows, insectary strips, wildflower meadows, and more)
  • Habitat conservation methods (e.g. site preparation, propagation, and maintenance)

Field Tour

  • Travel to farm site
  • Using the Beneficial Insect Habitat Assessment Form and Guide
  • Overview of Beneficial Insect Monitoring Guide

Module 6 – Q&A, additional resources, and course evaluations 


Thelma Heidel-Baker –  Conservation Biocontrol Specialist, Xerces Society  
Thelma Heidel-Baker is the insect pest management specialist for the Xerces Society. She has extensive experience in biological control and integrated pest management (IPM) in agricultural cropping systems and provides nationwide support for developing pest management programs with reduced risks to beneficial insects. She also develops technical materials to guide beneficial insect conservation on farms. Thelma received her Ph.D. in entomology from the University of Minnesota where she studied the role of beneficial insects in soybean IPM. She currently lives on her family’s organic dairy farm in eastern Wisconsin.

Jennifer Hopwood - Senior Pollinator Conservation Specialist, Xerces Society
Jennifer provides resources and training for beneficial insect habitat management and restoration. Jennifer is an author of a number of publications and articles, and has experience in invertebrate field and laboratory research, identification, education, and outreach. Jennifer has degrees in ecology and entomology from the University of Kansas, and holds an adjunct position with Michigan State University's Kellogg Biological Station.


Julie Peterson - Assistant Professor of Entomology and Extension Specialist, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Dr. Julie Peterson is an Assistant Professor and Entomology Extension Specialist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her program focuses on the biology and ecology of crop pests, such as western bean cutworm and western corn rootworm, looking for biological control, Integrated Pest Management and resistance management solutions. Julie received a Ph.D. from University of Kentucky and worked at University of Minnesota before joining UNL in the spring of 2014.